How Old Should You Be To Watch Boy Meets World "Lay the Favorite" – Safe Bet or Long Shot?

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"Lay the Favorite" – Safe Bet or Long Shot?

If you don’t like to bet, the title of this movie may be a bit misleading at first glance. However, take a closer look and you will see that there is more to this film than the title suggests. Based on the memoirs of 36-year-old American journalist Beth Raymer, “Lay the Favorite” is a light-hearted comedy about her brief foray into the sex industry and her experiences in the fast-paced world of sports gambling. While the original book received rave reviews in 2010, the film received harsh reviews shortly after its release just two years later. Those expecting the same intensity characteristic of director Stephen Frears’ previous works were disappointed when the finished product fell short of their expectations. While “Lay the Favorite” is nothing like his Oscar-winning drama “The Queen,” it never promises to be anything other than what it is — a true-life story about a 24-year-old who makes mistakes, learns valuable lessons and has a little fun along the way.

Rebecca Hall, moving away from her usual complex roles in films like “The Prestige” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” proves quite convincing as young Beth. Her character, while both naive and impulsive, is quite likable and you quickly find yourself rooting for her success. The story follows her on her journey from a private dancer in sunny Florida to a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas, where she meets professional gambler Dink (Bruce Willis), who eventually takes her in a completely different direction.

Willis’ character is somewhat reminiscent of his role in “The Whole Nine Yards” as hit man Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski, whose irony is almost too good to be true. Fast-forward a bit and the suave bookie, immediately able to see past Beth’s goofy exterior, convinces her to quit her job as a waitress and come work for him. He immediately proves that he has a knack for numbers and excels at business. Everything is going smoothly until Dink’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) becomes jealous of their growing relationship, which seems to go beyond the purely professional. Zeta-Jones does an outstanding job as the spoiled and snobbish Tulip, who will do everything in her power to stop her husband’s young and ambitious colleague from moving in with her man, even getting him to fire her despite the huge blow the job brings without her.

When Beth realizes things aren’t going the way she hoped, she decides it’s time to start over. Her new boyfriend Jeremy (Joshua Jackson) convinces her to move with him to New York in search of a better life and more opportunities. Jackson’s character, his first film role since 2008, is lovable, but has a much smaller role than fans had hoped. However, he is both charming and enjoyable on screen.

Not long after arriving in New York, Beth returns to the world of gambling. This time he gets a job for Rosie (Vince Vaughn), a bad boy type who is involved in all kinds of illegal and offshore gambling activities. While Vaughn’s character is a bit hard to believe as anything other than a criminal version of himself, he teaches Beth an important lesson about herself and what she wants out of life. That, of course, is only after he manages to get her into a ton of trouble.

All in all, “Lay the Favorite” is a wonderful story where we watch the main character duck and figure her way back out of trouble more times than she can count on one hand. Some of the problems he faces might seem far-fetched or even impossible if they weren’t based on real experiences. When asked about the film’s accuracy, Raymer said last year that while it is surprisingly true to life, many details are clearly lost when trying to condense four years of life into a ninety-minute screenplay. She also stated that despite the different ending and the fictional addition of Holly (Laura Prepon), she thought the screenwriter (DV DeVincentis) did a great job. Whether you’ve read the book or not, “Lay the Favorite” is a light-hearted and cheerful comedy that’s definitely worth watching.

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